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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aha?


I’m going to round my numbers to make it a little easier: 3; 46; 11; 138; 1,518. Remember these numbers – they are really important!

I’ve been thinking about changed lives a lot lately. It is the vision of our church – Growing Transformed Lives – and it is the passion of my heart. But I have also at times become a little depressed, to be honest. I get depressed because it takes a small amount of self-evaluation to realize that I have a few issues of my own that aren’t fully in submission to Jesus! Which then makes me think more about transformation – how does it happen? Why do some people change but not others? How can I help people make the changes in their life? Is there a secret key to life transformation?

Do you remember the important numbers I started out with? Hey! You cheated! You looked above at the numbers. I told you to remember them – they are important! Here is what they mean: 3 talks per week, 46 weeks per year, 11 years of talks, 138 talks per year, 1,518 talks over the last 11 years. That is how many times I have “preached” since coming to CSCC. If you have listened to me at all over the last 11 years, how many of those talks do you remember?

OK – no email responses – I don’t want to fall into a deep depression!

Actually, the most important question is, “How many Aha! moments from God do you remember?” God is constantly trying to get our attention, He is constantly trying to direct us into paths of peace and blessing – but are we listening? An Aha! moment is a recognition of God’s voice and His leading.

If you do a search in the Bible on the word “remember” you will see it is used 237 times. It is an important word.

There has been research done to see what the difference is between people who know something and people who know something and then live differently because of that knowledge. You know what the key is? People who live transformed lives regularly, intentionally remember their Aha! moments.
So, the next time God speaks into your life, the next time you get a little spiritual nudge, the next time the light bulb goes on in your head take the time to write it down. And then, for the next three weeks, every day, read over that insight and then act accordingly. You will experience transformation.

God wants you to embrace His best for your life. It is a daily journey of recognizing His best and choosing to live that way. As you do that you will experience blessings from God and he will use you in incredible ways to be a blessing to others. Remember to join the journey today!

Peace and grace.

"Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. " (James 1:22-25, The Message)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Language Lessons


“I should note that you will have to work through a translator…”

THAT set my mind spinning.

The e-mail update from Steve Bryan, my friend from Ethiopia, was letting me know about some pastors’ training events I was going to be speaking at. I will have the privilege of working with the Kale Heywet Church, Ethiopia’s largest denomination, in their “Disciple-Making Pastor” project when our team goes to Ethiopia from March 10-22. This denomination has over 7,000 churches and there is a great need for the growth and development of pastoral leadership. I will be going to two different cities – Mizan Teferi and Jemma (check them out on Google Maps!) – and meet with a group of pastors in each city to talk about leadership and discipleship. That is pretty exciting! And then I read those words…

“I should note that you will have to work through a translator…”

As I have thought about this great adventure to Ethiopia, I have wrestled with what I should focus on in my teaching. I am painfully aware that the difference in cultures between Placerville and Ethiopia are vast. It is making me think about whether the things I do and teach in ministry are simply cultural or whether they transcend culture.

All ministry takes place in the context of a particular culture and when you think about Jesus’ church in the world, those cultures are extremely diverse. Yet, even though times, places, languages, cultures and people change the timeless message of the Gospel remains the same. How could that be?

“I should note that you will have to work through a translator…”

I go back to my friend’s words. The thought of speaking using a translator is a bit of a challenge. But I am reminded that it is actually how God speaks to us all the time. I am not left alone to try and figure out how I can contribute to those I will be with in Ethiopia. Long ago God has made a provision for our weakness. He has sent a translator.

John 14:26-27 (NIV)
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.“

Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”


It is a great comfort to me to be reminded that in any new, strange or uncomfortable place I might find myself, I am not alone. Through the Holy Spirit, God is speaking my language to encourage me, teach me and lead me.

And you, as well, should take comfort in the truth that you are not on your own. There is one who speaks the very words of God into your heart and mind that is forever with you. He will speak truth and lead you. Trust him.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"You were a wuss."


wuss |woŏs|
noun informal
a weak or ineffectual person (often used as a general term of abuse). (Dictionary definition)

As we sat having our discussion over fried rice, hot tea, egg flower soup and curry shrimp, that was what my friend said to me: "You were a wuss."

Now let me tell you something - I have never been called a wuss to my face before. And, to tell you the truth, there was something about that statement that brought great delight to my soul.

What we were talking about when this profound insight was shared was some leadership failures on my part in dealing with people. My friend graciously pointed out that he didn't believe I was stupid, nor was I ignorant and unaware of what was going. He wasn't questioning my ability to address the issues I was up against. He was even confident I had what it took to help make positive steps forward. But I didn't. So he (rightly) assumed I chose the path of least resistance in that I wussed out. I chose to be weak and ineffectual instead of strong.

The proverbial slap in the face was a delight to me because I recognized I had a friend that truly cared about me that was sitting across from the table. He didn't wuss out when he could have by pointing out something that was obvious, true and uncomfortable. In that moment, my friend chose to be courageous.

Last Fall God pounded on me pretty hard in convicting me about the level of courage I was exhibiting in my life and leadership. An honest assessment made it clear that on a regular basis I was choosing to be safe instead of courageous. It was mostly about not speaking truth to myself and others when I knew it would be uncomfortable. And so, when I found myself in those situations, I would just let things slide until they faded into the background. The problem is, they never really fade away, they just fester.

Let me be clear, I'm not trying to justify being a jerk under the banner of courage. Some people "speak their mind" under the guise of "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) and really, they're just being jerks. No, I'm talking about those delicate and hard conversations we are sometimes called to have with others that will help them grow in their character and not-so-gently nudge them toward Christ-likeness. The kind of conversation my friend had with me.

For many years I have carried a laminated card in my wallet that has my personal values and vision written on it. "Courage" is right there (twice, actually). My friend wonderfully reminded me that I've still got a ways to go. It is my hope that I will live both a courageous life and a graceful life that I might reach my full potential in Christ and I might help others realize theirs, too. It is also my hope I will continue to have friends who won't wuss out on me when I need it and I will have the grace and wisdom to listen and learn from their courageous words.